Are Illegal Immigrants Beneficial to the United States
The United States, a nation founded by immigrants and sometimes referred to as a “melting pot,” was both a wonderful sanctuary and a hope for immigrants laboring around the world. Citizens of the United States are guaranteed full protection and the right to vote. In contrast, those who have obtained legal status in the United States, also known as “green card holders,” are permitted to stay in the country indefinitely. An illegal immigrant is someone who enters or remains in a nation in violation of its immigration laws.
(1). Many people are unable to become citizens of the United States under the present immigration restrictions. The end effect is that more than ten million undocumented immigrants currently live in the U. S. There is a lot of debate going on right now concerning the positives and negatives of undocumented immigrants being a part of American society and their influence on the future of immigration into the United States. Many people falsely assume that immigrants have a significant, negative effect on American society and contribute to the increase in crime that we’ve been experiencing. In actuality, however, immigrants make substantial contributions to American society and the economy, particularly in the agricultural sector, and amnesty for undocumented immigrants is in the best interests of the nation because they are undeniably an asset to this country.
According to Bernie Sanders, it’s “no great secret” that illegal workers working in the U.S. are vital to the country’s economy. Without them, food production in the country would plummet, as they are responsible for the harvesting and processing of our food (3). Hundreds of farmers in the United States rely on foreign workers to harvest their crops. Between 30 and 60 percent of California’s migrant workforce is made up of people without legal status, the vast majority of whom are Mexican. A lot of Mexican laborers come to the United States because they know they can make much more money here than in Mexico. Workers in Mexico may expect to earn, on average, $2.70 USD per hour. By comparison, agricultural workers in the United States earn an average wage of $14.88 per hour (4). Not only have immigrants benefitted from higher wages, but their willingness to work long hours for relatively low wages has helped California sustain its agricultural production. American agricultural production relies heavily on undocumented workers: according to the National Agricultural Workers Survey by the U.S. (5). Department of Labor, 53 percent of the nation’s farmworkers are not authorized to work in the United States (5).
Furthermore, undocumented immigrants subsidize the most important sector of the California economy. Unfortunately, however, after the clampdown on immigrants by President Trump’s government and the deeply flawed immigration system, various crops are spoiling because there are no workers to pick the crops. Currently, the American employment rate is so high that the only way to have legal workers pick the crops is by paying them much more than illegal immigrants. For farmers, this is not economically viable.
In California, there is a running joke that borders are opened during strawberry season and then closed once the season ends because the demand for strawberries is so high that farmers are desperate for labor to help pick the crops. California accounts for 80 percent of the strawberries grown in the U.S. and approximately 25 percent of the world’s commercial strawberries (6). According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2016, strawberries topped the list of agricultural products using workers with H-2A visas in California. H-2A visas grant immigrants entry into the United States for temporary or seasonal agricultural work (7). The highest number of workers with H-2A visas immigrated to California during the strawberry season to pick these crops. According to Geoffrey Mohan’s analysis of data from the U.S. Labor Department, more than 11,000 foreign guest workers were approved last year to harvest fruit and vegetables for California’s $47 billion agricultural economy, which has increased by five times since 2011 (7). These data highlight a major risk of deporting undocumented immigrants from the United States; not only will the workers and farmers be negatively impacted, but this will dramatically affect America’s agricultural sector.
Having undocumented immigrants reside and work in the United States is profitable for the American economy and opens possible future endeavors for further economic development. While it may be true that some immigrants, documented and undocumented, take some American jobs, many of these jobs, such as agricultural labor, are undesirable and are generally not applied for by legal American residents. Furthermore, America has had the lowest unemployment rate for over 40 years; as of October 2018, only 3.7 percent of the American population is unemployed (8). It allows the United States to grant more people legal status and jobs, with the highest employment rate in a long time. Many claim that undocumented immigrants steal American jobs and are a burden to the American economy. Still, in reality, immigrants don’t just increase the labor supply ¦ they increase the demand for it. ¦ Immigrants increase the size of the overall population, which means they increase the size of the economy (3). Immigrants, documented or undocumented, create jobs and pay large taxes, materially boosting the American economy. In fact, with over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, out of a total population of 325.7 million, this group significantly impacts the American economy and community (8). Researchers have found that immigrants, eligible only for legal status, contribute about $832 billion to the economy in ten years, add 121,000 more jobs per year, and pay $109 billion in taxes over ten years (10). Prof. Robert Lynch of Washington College’s Department of Economics and Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress have both claimed that the economy would benefit greatly by giving the illegal legal status and a path to citizenship. More importantly, the more readily we grant legal rights and citizenship, the more economic benefits our country will get (L10). By comparison, if undocumented immigrants earned and were granted legal status and citizenship, the U.S. [gross domestic product] would grow by $1.4 trillion over ten years, and immigrants would help to create an additional 203,000 jobs per year and add $184 billion in tax revenue (10). Enabling undocumented immigrants the opportunity to earn legal status, whether a green card or citizenship, will enable the American economy to retain the taxes paid and grow even more.
Opinions on handling people who illegally reside in the United States are polarized. Allan J. Favish, an attorney, like many others, claims that as long as illegal immigrants get to remain in the United States legally, they will have jumped ahead of those in their home countries who are attempting legal entry. However, others declare that these immigrants should be offered a path to legal status and eventually earn citizenship (3). This track to citizenship should be realistic rather than so burdensome that it prevents integration. Illegal immigrants do not need to be granted legal residency or citizenship. Still, by adding to the economic revenue of the United States and substantially supporting multiple sectors in the economy, they need the guarantee that they will not be penalized for entering the country unlawfully and that they will be granted the opportunity to earn legal status just like other immigrants who attempt legal entry. According to the AJC, it is unrealistic and inhumane to deport these individuals from their families and lives in the United States (3). Many would argue that granting undocumented immigrants amnesty is the best solution for the United States. According to the AJC, formerly known as the American Jewish Committee, immigration is good for the economy, illegal immigrants already pay taxes, most illegal immigrants are otherwise law-abiding, and immigration is a natural right (3). These immigrants have spent years building lives for themselves, buying or renting a house, finding a secure job with a steady income, sending their children to school, and being part of the local and national community. To uproot millions of people who comprise the backbone of the United States would be inhumane. It behooves America to find a reasonable path to legalize these immigrants and create a path to citizenship.
There is much debate over the correlation between undocumented immigrants entering the United States and fluctuating crime rates. Do many Americans also worry that more illegal? Aliens will increase crime rates, citing that over 53 percent of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens. However, between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. During that same period, FBI data indicated that the violent crime rate declined by 48 percent and the property crime rate fell by 41 percent, including depreciating motor vehicle theft, burglary, and robbery (11). Christopher Ingraham cites a study published by the libertarian Cato Institute in February that claimed a higher likelihood of American-born residents being convicted of a crime than immigrants, legally or illegally, in the country Ingraham. Ingraham also stated there were 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of illegal immigrants than native-born Americans in Texas in 2015 (12). It shows that while undocumented immigrants have marginally contributed to crime rates in the United States, the authenticity of this fact is overpowered by statistics such as these that prove native-born Americans are the main cause behind fluctuating crime rates. The reality, therefore, is that the growth of the undocumented immigrant population residing in the United States does not directly correlate to an increase in violence and crime rates.
Both Democrats and Republicans would agree that the current state of immigration in the United States is broken. Opinions on how undocumented immigrants affect American society greatly vary, from the misperception that illegal aliens increase crime rates and steal jobs to the well-documented perspective that they are vital for the economy, especially agricultural production, and should be offered the right to earn a legal path to citizenship. In the words of Richard L. Trumka, President of the AFL Congress of Industrial Organizations, the United States of America has 11 million aspiring citizens who rent or own homes, who raise families and buy groceries, who work hard, who pay taxes, and do their fair share in thousands of cities and towns all across this country but who live here as second-class citizens. Something has to be done about it! (3). The United States needs to come together and understand that undocumented immigrants play a crucial role in the national community, benefitting the economy, adding diversity of thought and skills, creating new jobs, and forming everlasting bonds with the nation. Minorities came to believe even more fiercely and fervently than ¦ the Founding Fathers in the self-evident truths that all men are created equal and are entitled to the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Stripping millions of immigrants of the lives they have spent decades building in the United States and sending them back to their homelands, which often have unsafe, impoverished living conditions, is not only morally wrong but also harmful to the success of American society and the fundamental ideal of America as a nation of immigrants. If the American immigration system provided a more efficient, clear-cut path for people seeking legal status, whether undocumented or not, it would profoundly benefit all lives involved. Revamping the immigration system would not only enable a greater population of immigrants to be eligible for legal status, but it would also advance the development of the United States as one of the greatest superpowers in the world.
- Cambridge Dictionary. illegal immigrant [Internet]. @CambridgeWords. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 23]. Available from: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/illegal-immigrant#:~:text=a%20person%20who%20comes%20to
- Narea N. Bernie Sanders’s evolution on immigration explained. Vox [Internet]. 2020 Feb 26; Available from: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/2/25/21143931/bernie-sanders-immigration-record-explained
- ProCon.org. Immigration ProCon.org – Should the Government Allow Immigrants Who Are Here Illegally to Become U.S. Citizens? [Internet]. Procon.org. 2000. Available from: https://immigration.procon.org/
- Forrester AC, Nowrasteh A. Immigrant Wages Converge with Those of Native-Born Americans [Internet]. Cato.org. 2022. Available from: https://www.cato.org/immigration-research-policy-brief/immigrant-wages-converge-those-native-born-americans#results
- National Agricultural Workers Survey. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2017-2018: A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farmworkers [Internet]. Available from: https://wdr.doleta.gov/research/FullText_Documents/ETAOP2021-22%20NAWS%20Research%20Report%2014%20(2017-2018)_508%20Compliant.pdf
- Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Strawberries [Internet]. www.agmrc.org. 2021. Available from: https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/fruits/strawberries#:~:text=California%20and%20Florida%20are%20the
- Department of Labor. H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers | U.S. Department of Labor [Internet]. www.dol.gov. 2022. Available from: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/agriculture/h2a
- Statista.com. U.S. unemployment rate: adjusted, August 2021 [Internet]. Statista. 2022. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/273909/seasonally-adjusted-monthly-unemployment-rate-in-the-us/#:~:text=The%20seasonally%2Dadjusted%20national%20unemployment
- United States Census Bureau. The U.S. and World Population Clock [Internet]. United States Census Bureau. 2022. Available from: https://www.census.gov/popclock/
- ProCon.org. Top 10 Pro & Con Arguments – Immigration – ProCon.org [Internet]. Immigration. 2017. Available from: https://immigration.procon.org/top-10-pro-con-arguments/
- Light MT, He J, Robey JP. Comparing crime rates between undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, and native-born U.S. citizens in Texas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2020 Dec 22;117(51):32340–7. Available from: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/51/32340
- Durkin E. Laura Ingraham condemned after saying immigrants destroy “the America we love.” The Guardian [Internet]. 2018 Aug 9; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/aug/09/laura-ingraham-fox-news-attacks-immigrants